A Spotlight on the Inaugural Product 50 winners

Honoring the past Product 50 winners to inspire future excellence in product and growth leadership

Perspectives
December 13, 2023
headshot of content marketing leader Mallory Mast
Mallory Mast
Director of Content Marketing
The logos of 2022 inaugural winners of Product 50

Today, we’re excited to open Product 50 nominations!

Product 50 is the definitive list that honors the best and brightest product and growth leaders transforming the industry and setting the standard for excellence. But first, we want to honor the inaugural class of leaders who helped set the precedent by taking a look back.

Though startups had always focused on digital products, they were gaining new prominence in the corporate environment. As C-suites realized that their products offered their best competitive advantage and were a critical lever for revenue, companies began adopting a product-led mindset to survive.

And it was in this economic environment that we felt it was necessary to celebrate the leaders at the helm, driving innovation and change. Therein, Product 50 was born.

The inaugural Product 50

The first generation of Product 50 was a milestone, attracting more than 800 nominations from renowned organizations like Google, American Express, and Etsy.

A panel of industry judges scored the nominations. And across ten categories, we recognized one winner and a handful of finalists each, showcasing the diversity and dynamism of product and growth leadership.

Celebrating the inaugural class of Product 50 winners

Please note that the winner and finalist titles and companies represented are at the time of recognition.

Most Admired Product Leader: Jen Carter, Product Manager and Head of Technical Team at Google

  • Finalists:
    • Rodger Desai, CEO of Prove
    • SC Moatti, Founder of Products That Count
    • Chris Miller, VP of Product, Growth and Fintech at Hubspot
    • Christina Forney, VP of Product at Sourcegraph
    • Angela Kim, Chief Product Officer at Chief

Best Product Leader, Large Company: Sravanthi Kadali, Group Product Manager, Rider App at Lyft

  • Finalists:
    • Madhurima Khandelwal, VP, Head of AI Labs at American Express
    • Natalia Barsyshnikova, Head of Product, Confluence, Experience at Atlassian
    • Arin Bhowmick, Chief Design Officer at SAP
    • Kruti Patel Goyal, Chief Product Officer at Etsy

Best Product Leader, Midsize Company: Vijaysai Patnaik, Head of Product at Applied Intuition

  • Finalists:
    • Melissa Chenok, Product Leader at Lattice
    • Tim Flem, SVP, Product, UX and Learning Science at Macmillan Learning
    • Sarim Siddiqui, Chief Product Officer at Quit Genius
    • Cory Smith, Senior Product Director at Paradox

Best Product Leader, Small Company: Tulsi Dharmarajan, Former Head of Product at Wheel

  • Finalists:
    • Martin Felcman, VP of Product at Deepnote
    • Quinnie Chen, Product Manager at Envato
    • Angela Sutherland, CEO and Co-Founder of Yumi
    • Kausambi Manjita, Co-Founder of Mason

Most Promising Up-and-Comer: Zen Liu, Senior Product Manager at LingoAce

  • Finalists:
    • Jeannine Fischer, Senior Product Manager at Avail Car Sharing
    • Debrup Ghosh, Senior Product Manager at Synopsys
    • Diana Huang, Senior Product Manager at Canva
    • Diane Wong, Group Product Manager at Crunchbase

Best Digital-Native Product Leader: Karen Ng, VP of Product and Data at Common Room

  • Finalists:
    • Nancy Wang, GM, AWS Data Protection and Governance at Amazon Web Services
    • Anaid Chacón, Head of Product at Nuvocargo
    • Adam Somlai-Fischer, Co-Founder of Prezi
    • Nitish Kishore Khadke, Senior Product Manager, Web Security at Palo Alto Networks

Best Digital Transformation Product Leader: Lisa Yokoyama, Head of Product for Amex Digital Labs at American Express

  • Finalists:
    • Jessica Daley, Global Director of B2B2C at AB InBev / BEES
    • Will Everitt, Director, Product Solutions at Seven West Media
    • Ina Herlihy, Group Product Manager at Walmart
    • Utkarsh Arora, Head of Subscriber Engagement and Retention at The Economic Times

Best Product Design Leader: Filip Stollár, Co-founder and Head of Design at Deepnote

  • Finalists:
    • Theresa Schaefer, EVP, Product and Design at Olo
    • Gleb Kuznetsov, Chief Design Officer at Brain Technologies Inc.
    • Jessica Faccin, Product Designer Lead at Canva
    • Amanda Rosenberg, Head of Research, Google Classroom at Google

Best Product Influencer: Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, Founder and CEO at Product School

  • Finalists:
    • Clement Kao, Founder of Product Teacher
    • Teresa Torres, Product Discover Coach at Product Talk
    • Shravan Tickoo, Principal Product Manager at BYJUs
    • Sugandha, Principal Prodduct Manager at Eightfold

Best Nonprofit Product Leader: Christina Yida Hu, Head of Product, ZOE Covid Study at ZOE

  • Finalists:
    • Adrianna Tan, Director, Product Management for City and County of San Francisco
    • Mohit Gupta, UX Manager for IMage Impact International
    • Stacy Smedley, Executive Director of Building Transparency

This year, we’ve got a similar but evolved set of categories and three impressive industry judges from Amplitude, G2, and Reforge scoring the nomination, which you can learn more about on the nomination page.

Honoring the past, inspiring the future

To inspire the next wave of leaders, we spoke with our previous winners who have been paving the way for aspiring Product 50 candidates.

Their advice for becoming a visionary worthy of the next Product 50

We asked our previous winners if they had advice for anyone early in their career, hoping to land on the Product 50 list.

But, before we get to their wisdom, did you know that you can still make it to the Product 50 if you’re early in your career? If you or someone you know shows promise as a product or growth visionary, you can nominate them for the “Most Promising Up-and-Comer category.”

In fact, Zen Liu Zhanhong won this category in 2022. He shares a wealth of advice on understanding the customer and landscape, and about doing good by those you work with. But, we’re a bit biased toward what he says about data:

“Make data your ally and use it skillfully to persuade and unite your team around a shared goal.”

Zen Liu Zhanhong, Senior Product Manager

Leading with data (and integrity), isn’t the only aspect that makes great leaders like Zen stand out.

Karen Ng was recognized for “Best Digital-Native Product Leader” when she was VP of Product and Data at Common Room, and is now SVP of Product and Partnerships at Hubspot. She offers great guidance:

“Building product means knowing for certain that you aren't always right—which drives me every day to be a better listener, have deeper empathy for who I'm building for, be flexible in my approach, be deft in prioritizing, and have focus—because you'll only get to a product customers love one step at a time.”

—Karen Ng, SVP Product and Partnerships, Hubspot

This kind of humble introspection is something many of our winners share. And another aspect they offer is that they’re continually driving innovation in their roles, but also shaping those around them, continuing to grow and push the envelope across our industry.

For instance, since winning Product 50’s “Best Digital Transformation Leader,” Lisa Yokoyama was promoted to SVP of Product at Amex Digital Labs, the company’s innovation arm. In her role, she is working on advancing the product management agenda and innovation at American Express, and she also co-sponsors the company's Product Club, where she works on up-skilling the internal product community.

She shares her advice:

“Hone in on your superpower, make it clear to colleagues and leaders through your work, and humbly share that skill with people in your organization to make them better, as well.”

—Lisa Yokoyama, SVP of Product for Amex

This great advice from our bold visionaries is perfect for leaders at any stage of their careers.

What is the biggest change shaping the industry?

As we think toward the next generation of Product 50 leaders, there’s one trending change our past winners emphasized—the proliferation of AI. They spoke about:

  • How AI is accelerating the pace of change, impacting how people search, discover and buy
  • Its influence on customer expectations for personalized one-to-one experiences
  • The operational cost reduction it offers through aspects like increased productivity and breaking down knowledge barriers
  • The importance of product leaders championing the ethical use of AI

And, we couldn’t agree more. We’ve embraced the AI-powered future of Product Development at Amplitude, and it’s surely a point our judges will be evaluating for the next list of winners. But that's not all judges are looking for. They'll evaluate nominees on their work artifacts, examples, and success.

Digital analytics is critical to success for our Product 50 leaders

As a unified digital analytics platform that helps teams quickly improve digital products and customer experiences, we are the first to champion data's role in our industry. And we love hearing the examples of how our previous Product 50 winners are leveraging data to inform their work.

Sravanthi Kadali won “Best Product Leader at a Large Company” when she was Group Product Manager, and in the year after she won, was promoted to head of Rider Product. After an impressive seven-year tenure, she’s now pursuing an early-stage startup. Data was critical in her success because, to her, the heart of product work is understanding what users actually want.

She likes to say:

“Product analytics is one way to form hypotheses (alongside qualitative signals from customers), and experimentation is often how we keep ourselves honest about whether they panned out.”

—Sravanthi Kadali, product leader

In fact, her team ran experiments for new feature launches from simple A/B tests to more complicated experiments on controlling for marketplace dynamics (like comparing a similar hour across multiple weeks).

And even if the experiments “failed,” she always made sure to celebrate the learnings. The failed experiments were often more valuable and interesting than those that validated what they already knew.

Lisa Yokoyama also spoke about understanding the user and the importance of full journey insights in informing iterative development. She gave a great example of using customer behavioral metrics to uncover a new service offering, Amex Split:

“We observed that card members were splitting several transactions in sequence, so we augmented the product with a feature that enables customers to bundle multiple transactions together and then split them all at once. This makes it easier for customers to split the bill for a vacation or a night out with friends. Our Card Members love it.”

—Lisa Yokoyama, SVP of Product for Amex.

If you’re nominating yourself or someone else, be sure to share anecdotes and examples similar to these that demonstrate your leadership.

What are the challenges keeping them up at night?

But, regardless of their career status and influence on the industry, these leaders share the relatable pain points you might have in your own career. Here are some of the challenges that keep them up at night:

  • “How to keep velocity, while scaling out how to build great products in a scaling organization.”—Karen Ng
  • “Talent. I am constantly thinking about how to invest in, train, and develop the product talent we have in our organization. Our mission depends on creative, curious, and energized colleagues.”—Lisa Yokoyama

Becoming a visionary isn't always an easy road! But it's always one worth celebrating.

What's next: The evolving face of Product 50

The inaugural Product 50 set a precedent for excellence and innovation. We celebrate their achievements and eagerly anticipate the revelation of the next set of leaders who will shape the industry's future. Your nominations are vital in this journey of discovery and recognition.

With the spotlight on the next generation of Product 50 leaders, we're calling for nominations—be it a peer or yourself—to recognize the unsung heroes of product and growth leadership. It's an easy, cost-free process that will unveil our next wave of industry innovators and visionaries.

Nominations will be open through midnight PST, Jan. 31. Judges from Reforge, Amplitude, and G2 will score the nominations, and we’ll announce the winners in a big reveal in VentureBeat and across Amplitude’s platforms in March.

Seize the opportunity and nominate an outstanding product leader today.

About the Author
headshot of content marketing leader Mallory Mast
Mallory Mast
Director of Content Marketing
Mallory is an award-winning journalist who's been leading content marketing teams and strategy for more than a decade.

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Kate Syuma
Kate Syuma
Founder, Growthmates, ex-Miro Head of Growth Product Design